The Federation of Workplace Democracies in Minnesota (FWD-MN)
by Tom Pierson
After receiving a grant from The Cooperative Foundation in late 2004, we started implementing educational programs midway through 2005, geared to worker-owners, the general public, unions, and local university students.
In November 2005 a Minneapolis City Council election brought a Forward Minnesota-supported candidate into office, who provided us with an opportunity to advocate using worker cooperatives as a
community economic development model. In April 2006 we organized a presentation from Loren Rodgers of the National Center for Employee Ownership and Margaret Lund of Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund for community economic development practitioners in Minnesota.
The presentation outlined the benefits of worker cooperatives and used case studies to show how worker cooperatives are ideal partners for local governments interested in community development.
Recently we've developed a discount card for workers at member businesses. The card functions both as a worker benefit and as a marketing tool for participating coops. The discount card currently can be used only at member co-ops in the Twin Cities metro area; in future this might be expanded to include worker cooperatives in the entire state. Some of the cards are promotional ones given to volunteers
and others who help us achieve our mission. New cards will be made every 6 months and promotional cards will expire, so that member co-ops will have an opportunity to change their discounts if they desire.
In July 2006 a new logo was approved by the Board of Directors. It was based on USFWC's logo, because of our intention to maintain close association with the national movement.
Our web site had a makeover, because members told us the old site looked drab and was hard to navigate. The new site has a bold look, is easier to navigate, and features the member businesses prominently on the home page. We will continue developing the site to make it more useful for members and the public. You can see the new version at www.mncooperate.org.
In mid-August Forward is holding a two week Minnesota Regional Worker Co-op Conference, with workshops for members and the public alike. The kick-off event is doubling as a celebration of North Country Coop Grocery's 35th Anniversary and the opening of an art/history show about Minneapolis worker cooperatives of the 1970s, which will run for the month of August at Seward Community Café.
During the coming months we're planning to create a poster map of all the worker co-ops in the state of Minnesota. We have also been planning to use our new logo on a sign in the window of every member business. And following the August workshops, a monthly co-marketing discussion group will be organized.
Tom Pierson is a worker-owner at Seward Community Café in Minneapolis, MN, is an active part of FWD-MN, and serves as a board member of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives.
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